There have been few players throughout the history of the AFL with a list of accolades and a playing reputation to match Adam Goodes.
For over a decade he has been Sydney’s bona fide superstar, with the ability to turn games with a touch of magic, and none exerts more influence on a game than he does.
At 31, and after more than 290 games and 330 goals, Adam Goodes may run the risk of being the forgotten man when debates about “all-time greats” and “best ofs” come around.
He was a rising star in 1999, a three time All-Australian, dual best and fairest winner, premiership player, international rules captain, Sydney Swans co-captain, member of the Indigenous Team of the Century, and to top it off, dual Brownlow medallist.
This is undeniably an amazing list of achievements that are not fully appreciated by the footballing fraternity.
Melbourne legend Gary Lyon said last year that if Goodes was playing in Melbourne he would receive much more praise and plaudits for the way he plays, and have his career even more celebrated.
This was in relation to a discussion about who the best players in the league were at the time, and Lyon was vehemently convinced that Goodes is in the Judd, Ablett and Swan bracket.
Being able to watch him play every week and having done so for 10 years, I’m in a pretty good position to judge where he stands among his contemporaries and from the past.
As a pure footballer, if you could choose one player and duplicate them into 22 to build a team, Goodes would be the one most would choose. In essence he is a ruckman who can win the ball, dispose of it beautifully, kick goals, mark, spoil, tackle and exhibit flair.
Nobody can comfortably say they can tag Adam Goodes successfully because his versatility and footballing prowess is astounding.
Having won a Brownlow as a ruckman and then as a midfielder and almost again as a forward, Goodes’ last five seasons have seen him poll 97 votes, averaging a tick under 20 votes per season.
This is not to say votes are what separates the greats from the rest but an indication of his consistency of performance even up to his 30s.
Yet again this year he has shown his match-winning and best-on-ground qualities in games against the Eagles, Lions, Pies, Bombers and Demons. A few more votes one suspects.
He rules the roost at the Swans and continues to do so in the AFL and he does not seem like slowing down.
It is perhaps unfair to be comparing the champions of our game like Judd, Swan and Ablett at their prime with a player who is well past his halycon days.
Goodes has been among the game’s elite for a long time rubbing shoulders with the likes of Buckley, Hird, Voss, Ricciuto, Bell and Crawford, and has made his mark on the game.
Do people forget how good he was and still is because they don’t bother to watch him live? The way he brings other players into the game and puts the team on his shoulders is remarkable.
With age he has become more well-rounded and impressed a lot as a forward. Being able to roam around centre-half forward and go onto the ball when the swans are being beaten in the middle and seeing him spark the team and ignite has been one of the great sights.
Not every player can do that, and having been there from when Plugger kicked his 1300th goal till Lewis Jetta kicked his first, Goodes has stood the test of time.
If the body holds up and the hunger is still there he could no doubt play for a very long time yet and reach magical milestones. Then he would be considered one of the greatest, not because of achievements but because of what he has provided for the Swans, and an influence that extends far and wide.
For those who like to get into the whole argument about who is better, Goodes versus Judd, it is important that the two most decorated modern day players are given their due respect. They should not be devalued by numbers, but we should delve into the cultural and spiritual impact that the players have had on the side.
Brett Kirk for instance may not have had the best stats record but his influence through leadership, grit and sheer will has left an eternal mark on the swans. Goodes likewise has left a mark and the young Swans team are learning a lot from one of the greatest Swans to play the game.
What do you think? Has Goodes been underrated for not playing in Melbourne, and should he be considered an all time great?